The Ticket to Heaven
I was visited by aliens one night. They told me that the lottery was rigged. “Put your money on these numbers,” Zog told me, “and you’ll come up big time. Trust me.” So I bought myself a ticket and, sure enough, Saturday saw me a multi-millionaire. I claimed my fortune anonymously, then gave a quarter away to the most fashionable charity in a media extravaganza. I bought a Ferrari, a Spanish villa, two wives from Brunei and the complete ‘Happy Days’ laser disc collection, digitally remastered to meet nineties expectations. Suddenly, life was great.
It did not bother me that my riches had been earned in luck and luck alone. Someone has to live there, after all. A wise old tramp once told me that luck is the wood of life and effort the tools that carve it. “These days,” he had said, “you’re lucky if you get a job; these days, I’m lucky if I make a nickel.” I went back to that park in Reading to find the tramp and push the price of a slap up feast into his leathery hand for his consoling advice. “Son,” he said in happy gratitude, “for another bag of chips I’ll even tell you the best thing you can do with all that money of yours. There’s a seaside village by the name of Elderwinkle in the west country, where the angels meet every eleventh night of the month to play cards. Poker. Aces high. You’ll notice that one of the angels always plays with an extra card. His name is Bryollia. The angel’s name is Bert. Bert’ll take every penny you have, but for this fortune he’ll give you that card. Don’t be fooled by the lacklustre finish, for in reality it’s a ticket to heaven.
I have one here and it cost me everything I owned, but I wouldn’t give it away for all the world and all the stars. Peace of mind, son – the best thing money can buy. You’ll find them playing on the beach at midnight, third rock from the right. They’ll be drinking Vimto.”
I paid the man his dues and left, my mind a dazzling whirl. Could all that he had said be true? And, if so, did that explain the existence of Vimto? On the eleventh of the month I drove my Ferrari to Elderwinkle and leapt out and onto the beach at the stroke of twelve. Sure enough, twelve hours later, they arrived, four of them, in a brilliant burst of golden light. I found the angel with the extra card and took him to one side, discreetly.
“You Bert?”I asked.
“Whose asking?” he replied, shiftily.
“I am,” I said, “I hear you’ve got some, uh, ‘tickets’ for sale.”
“Well maybe I have and maybe I haven’t,” he said.
We stood for a moment in silence. Bert lit up a fag.
“Ok,” he said eventually, “so I have. How much you got then?”
“I got plenty,” I replied.
Bert threw a price into the moonlit sand and the haggling commenced. Half an hour later I was a broken, penniless man on the road back to London, with nothing but a ticket in my pocket (Bert retained the rest of the trousers).
Life, I tell you, was tough. I had nothing. I had to survive on a sparse diet of roots, berries and anything else I could scrounge from the kindly owner of Hampington health store. I started to hope for the aliens to return, but, for a week and fifty-six days, there was nothing. Then, at last, they came. “I’ve been doing some thinking,” Zog said, “and I figure you owe me plenty. Cough up rich boy or I’ll laser-etch my name onto your bollicles one by one. I can do it, you know.”
Poor Zog. Little did he know that humans and bollicles have not shared time together for well over sixteen thousand years. As I pointed out this simple evolutionary fact his face crumpled and he fell to his knees, explaining Zogian legislation regarding genetic superiority as he wept. “Oh master!” he cried, “please forgive us. All these years of abduction, rape and obscene graffiti strewn across your cornfields – if only we had known!”
“Silence, bollicled one,” said I. “This Saturday’s a rollover. Give me the numbers and I’ll overlook the incident. In the meantime I will require my very own flying saucer, a ray gun, a teleporter and a fully functional android servant the spitting image of Baby Spice’s twin sister Petula.”
I overestimated Zogian android technology. Nonetheless, I am now one of the richest men on the planet, Divine ruler of Zog and in possession of a bona fide ticket to heaven. The ticket goes up for auction next week and I expect to make a pretty damn hefty profit. You see I don’t believe in the afterlife.